By Demion McTair. Updated 1:45 p.m., Tuesday, June 2, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Persons entering emergency shelters in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the 2020 hurricane season will be subject to new guidelines due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his annual address to mark the June 1st start of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves said the measures are “guided by the health services committee to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in our emergency shelters, to help contain the spread of the disease”.
Dr. Gonsalves said the new guidelines include the wearing of face masks at all times by persons entering shelters and staying at shelters.
He said that “for those who can’t wear masks properly”, or who get claustrophobic, they will wear shields.
There are also guidelines for groups that enter shelters as families.
“Inside of the shelter, families will stay in specified areas which are designated to maintain the necessary physical distancing from others within the shelter, so as far as possible, we will try and keep the families together”, he said.
“That has tended to happen normally but we have to be more secure about it on this occasion and more robust in our observation of that particular approach”, Dr. Gonsalves said.
Persons are also encouraged to go to the shelter in their communities, or nearby, if their community does not have a shelter.
The prime minister said residents need to know where there community shelters are as part of their preparations ahead of time.
He said the list will be read out on radio and it will be in newspapers.
The prime minister said that persons should, ahead of time in their emergency planning, first try to make alternate arrangements for their safety at suitable places, whether it be at relatives before proceeding to a shelter. But, if those arrangements don’t work out, then they go to a shelter.
Forecasters have predicted an active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season which runs from June first to about November 30.